After it was announced earlier this week that Blount County Schools would no longer allow student or volunteer-led prayer over the intercom before games, fans were worried that their prayer would be silenced.
However, if Friday’s Locust Fork High School game was any indication, prayer in Blount County will continue.
In a video posted on Twitter, the crowd of students and fans can be seen banding together to use the designated pregame moment of silence to fill the stands with the Lord’s Prayer.
Friday during an appearance on Birmingham’s Talk 99.5’s “Matt & Aunie Show,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) weighed in on the current controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and how his colleagues in the U.S. Senate are handling the confirmation process to date.
During the segment, Rogers responded to a question about his House colleague Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) calling on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation if Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford did not step forward and announce her intentions to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Calhoun County Republican agreed with Byrne and suggested Jones “represent the majority will” of Alabamians.
MONROEVILLE – During Alabama’s transition from Democrat to Republican that began in the 1990s and was capped off in 2010 with the GOP finally gaining control of all the branches of government in Montgomery, the local government in Monroe County was one place that was able to resist that trend.
However, the politics of the state could finally be catching up with one of Alabama’s most historic counties.
In a setting that had the feeling of being a throwback to the heyday of political rallies staged by the likes former Gov. “Big” Jim Folsom and former Congressman Frank Boykin, the Monroe County Republican Party hosted a rally featuring Gov. Kay Ivey and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) on the lawn of the old Monroe County Courthouse that is thought to be the inspiration for the courthouse in fictitious Maycomb, Alabama, the scene of Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
The goal of the event was to energize GOP voters headed into the midterm elections and flip major local offices in Monroe County, including district judge, sheriff and probate judge, currently held by Democrats to Republican.
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
California environmentalists caught setting up Alabama shadow campaign, cancel planned meeting
(Team Cara & Kari/Facebook)
After getting caught trying to set up a shadow campaign to influence Alabama’s upcoming elections for the Public Service Commission (PSC), the California-based “Citizens’ Climate Lobby” has canceled a scheduled meeting for September 26 in Auburn.
The meeting was first published in the Opelika Observer, however, the paper’s article stated that it was the PSC itself holding the event. The mistake came from utilizing a press release orchestrated by the Climate Lobby, which was, at best, very poorly worded and, at worst, intentionally misleading.
After the PSC saw the article and contacted the Observer, the paper issued a retraction on Friday apologizing for the mixup. They also reported that the Climate Lobby canceled the meeting. This cancellation followed the group’s failed attempt to seemingly organize the meeting from behind the scenes.
Nowhere in the published press release was the Climate Lobby’s name mentioned or involvement disclosed. It opened, “The Alabama Public Service Commission, referred to as the PSC, has the responsibilities …” and ended with details about the meeting, which would be to “discuss the PSC and its role in future energy sources for Alabama consumers. In addition to knowledgeable sources regarding the PSC, candidates for the up-coming PSC election have also been invited to attend.”
While it is unclear what “knowledgeable sources” referred to since no one employed by or associated with the PSC was actually scheduled to attend, the true meaning of the botched meeting was revealed with the buzzwords “future energy sources.” This followed a paragraph in the press release containing all the traditional language of the Obama-era environmental mandates.
In reality, this meeting was supposed to be the opening salvo in the anticipated upcoming push of out-of-state liberal environmental groups to boost the flailing Democratic candidates for PSC Place 1 and PSC Place 2, both of whom are running in a rare way – as an unofficial package deal.
As seen on their joint social media pages, the two Democrats are running largely based on anti-affordable energy and anti-Trump policies, instead wanting to boost energy sources that would raise Alabamians’ power bills for the sake of left-leaning climate policies implemented during the Obama years.
In stark contrast, the current energy policies supported by Commissioners Chris Beeker and Jeremy Oden, along with PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, have led to Alabama’s utility rates being ranked best in the nation by the national publication Area Development.
The Climate Lobby has shown their intentions for the weeks leading up to Alabama’s November 6 election, and voters should anticipate similar shadow games yet to come.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
— Daniel Sutter’s main argument is the obvious argument for sports gambling. He wrote, “Without legalization, Alabama will not share in these jobs and tax revenues.Alabama sports bettors’ money will support businesses and government services in other states.”
— Even though he doesn’t see Alabama legalizing gambling any time soon, the professor’s main argument is one of freedom to gamble and lose one’s money in their home state as opposed to sending it elsewhere.
— The furor over tech companies’ bias against conservatives has died down, but new e-mails show employees were working on using the search engine to weaponize its users against the president’s travel ban, to boost pro-immigration groups and lawmakers.
— Google says the ideas were never implemented, but the fact that they were being bantered about show that the organization is aware of its massive power and has some employees who are willing to use it.
— Michael Cohen, has been spending hours with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team over the last month. He has no immunity in those talks because his previous deal was with the southern district of New York’s prosecutors.
— This obviously is not good for the president, but there is a chance that Mueller could actually get that elusive Trump interview after all, with his legal counsel telling Fox News that they are “pleased with the progress being made”
— Montgomery’s City Council blocked an attempt at a citywide curfew and the mayor repeated unheeded calls to add penalties to parents who have kids that commit criminal acts.
— Earlier this month, Birmingham City Councilwoman Lashanda Scales wanted stronger laws doing the same thing. She told the council, “I’ve been trying to get a bill sponsored where we could put some teeth into holding parents accountable for what they call ‘Capricious Acts’ or contributing to acts of violence of their children.”
— Most news stories where Trump issues a reasonable and rational response to the day’s news are followed by stories about how the “The president is seething behind the scenes.” This isn’t happening today.
— After a week of dust-ups over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Trump still isn’t mad. CNN wrote, “Rather than lashing out in anger or defensiveness, Trump said Monday he’d like to ‘see a complete process.'”
— Alabama’s junior senator sent a tweet referencing his work as a prosecutor, invoking four dead girls in Birmingham. He said, “I’ve successfully prosecuted 38-year-old crimes. It wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing to do to get justice for the victims.”
— While Jones did successfully jail people for those crimes, he also had evidence and eyewitness testimony. A Republican would be crushed for saying this.
— The three Twitter users and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama are claiming Secretary John Merrill is violating their First Amendment rights by blocking them. They argue it amounts to a decision to “discriminate against” citizens.
— Trump’s approval rating in Alabama is still at 63 percent through August, according to Morning Consult. West Virginia and Wyoming passed the Yellowhammer State, and are now at 64 and 65 points, respectively.
— Trump’s national approval rating is in the high-30s and low-40s. Democrats hold a generic ballot lead of as much as 14-points.
5. Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers explains why he doesn’t need to debate his opponent and questions her attacks on Alabama
— Gov. Kay Ivey isn’t the only Republican who feels they have a big enough lead to coast to victory in November and when he was asked about a debate he responded, “Why would I want to help her with name ID?”
— Rogers also expressed disappointment with former beauty queen Mallory Hagan’s apparent disdain for Alabama’s culture. He told Yellowhammer News, “I never left Alabama,” and, “I’ve been here over the last five decades raising a family and proud of this country, proud of the state.”
— Trump claimed that AG Sessions is responsible for his policy problems and the issues surrounding the Russian investigation. Even with all the attacks it appears Sessions is still safe until after the midterms.
— “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad,” Trump told TheHill.TV. He also blamed Sessions for the issues at the border even though he was thwarted by the courts.
3. Walt Maddox wants a debate. His campaign says he takes on all questions, but that’s a lie
— Democrats want Gov. Kay Ivey to debate Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, so much so that his speechwriter made a false statement on Twitter about interview requests, “I do know @WaltMaddox never turns down interview requests. Heck, he’s done interviews with grade schoolers for their yearbooks. Walt is out there, in full view, for the public. He’s never shied away from a single question.”
— This is a complete and total a lie. Maddox’s campaign has ignored multiple requests from interviews over the last few months and at least three since that tweet was sent.
2. After Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser refused to testify publicly, Senator Chuck Grassley continues to try to get her on the record
— Grassley has set a deadline for information from the accuser’s attorney, telling her, “Dr. Ford’s prepared testimony and biography are due to the Committee by 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 21, if she intends to testify on Monday.”
1. Alabama Senator Doug Jones continues to signal that he is just looking for an excuse to vote no on Brett Kavanaugh
— As the Kavanaugh accuser continues to signify that she will never cooperate with the confirmation, Alabama’s junior Senator wants the entire process to slow down even further. He wants an FBI investigation, and he also wants people who have denied the whole thing to be subpoenaed.
— Jones has made it clear that he will not publicly deliberate and refuse to make any clear statement on the matter. He knows he is in a perilous situation where he can either anger his voters or the state’s voters who voted for him because he wasn’t Roy Moore.
7 Things: Kavanaugh accuser may not appear for a hearing, Trump and Shelby agree on giving Kavanaugh and his accuser a fair hearing, father of child who brought a gun to school arrested and more …
7. As parts of America moves towards a cash-less bail, including Cullman County, illegal immigrants show why this won’t work
— With California and Cullman County facing rulings where cash-less bail may become a very real possibility, a new report finds monitoring bracelets don’t work for three out of 10 illegal immigrants.
— The associate director for ICE testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, saying, “three in 10 family units are cutting off their ankle bracelets at the beginning of the process when they’ve been released from our custody.”
— Seven states, including Alabama have obesity rates over 35 percent. Only two states (Hawaii and Colorado) have rates below 25 percent.
— Besides the obvious health risks, including hypertension, diabetes and cancer, a recent report estimated that overweight people cost the economy $149 billion annually in health care spending and $66 billion in lowered economic productivity every year.
5. Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon states the obvious, says Governor Kay Ivey has no need to debate
— McCutcheon made the obvious political calculus, opining, “The candidates of those campaigns, they need to look at the polling, they need to look at the issues, they need to look at the opportunity they have.”
4. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox does not support the Alabama constitutional amendment, declaring abortion is a “right”
— Alabama Democrats will constantly attempt to brand themselves as anything but pro-choice. This act usually gives way to reality when they are given the option to show who they truly are.
— Amendment Two, according to the Alabama Policy institute, “would add language to the state constitution acknowledging the sanctity of unborn life and stipulating that the state constitution provides no right to abortion,” and Maddox is a “NO” vote on that matter.
— Letroy Cole Jr. was arrested after an investigation into an accidental shooting at Blossomwood Elementary. He was not charged in relation to the actual shooting.
— Cole is a convicted felon who should not have a firearm, let alone a stolen one. He was charged with fourth-degree receiving stolen property and illegal possession of a pistol.
2. Democrats have already convicted Judge Brett Kavanaugh, but Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and President Donald Trump say the accusation is serious and must be vetted
— Echoing most Republicans and the president of the United States’ call for the accuser to “state her case,” Senator Shelby’s spokesperson said, “Sen. Shelby trusts that Chairman Grassley is working diligently to get to the bottom of these claims- particularly after being deprived of this information for many weeks.”
— Democratic Senators like Hiram Hirono (D-HI) are being praised for convicting Kavanaugh and saying, “They need to be believed,” in spite of all the issues at hand, for saying, “[J]ust shut up and step up. Do the right thing for a change.”
1. It now appears the accuser of Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh will not appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee
— Further proving this is probably garbage, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was invited to tell her story to the committee in public and take questions on alleged assault, but Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley has not heard from Ford after multiple requests over the last “the last 36 hours.”
— The Kavanaugh friend who was allegedly in the room, Mike Judge, will not be appearing before Congress, but he has issued a letter further denying the events described that took place — which angers the media. But remember that the accuser has no idea when, where or even what season the alleged party took place.
7 Things: Kavanaugh confirmation drama continues, Maddox still has no clue how to pay for his Medicaid expansion, Trump declassifies information related to Russia investigation and more …
(New York Times/YouTube)
7. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) makes an appearance in a local city council race
— Municipal elections are generally low turnout and non-partisan, but the campaign to elect former state school board member Mary Jane Caylor to the Huntsville City Council is now invoking her opponents’ support of the failed 2016 presidential candidate.
— The Facebook post hitting “Liberal Elite Frances Akridge” for her support of “Bernie Sanders – along with a dozen ultra-left candidates – several of which also describe themselves as Socialist Democrats” and says that Huntsville needs “conservative, proven, and principled leadership.”
6. Second-grader in Alabama shoots himself in school, but does not have a life-threatening injury
— In a letter to parents, Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Christie Finley says a small child was shot in the hand after a student pulled the gun out of a book bag and shot himself in the hand while showing off the gun.
— The Madison County assistant district attorney says there is no criminal liability for the parents, explaining, “There is really no criminal liability for a second-grader unless the parent somehow sent the gun with the second-grader, there is really no criminal liability for them.”
5. Federal judge gives the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau more time to respond to a lawsuit brought by Alabama
— Attorney General Steve Marshall and Congressman Mo Brooks brought the lawsuit to stop counting illegal immigrants in the once-a-decade counting of citizens.
— If the federal government continues with its plan to count and include illegals in its census count for representation, the state of Alabama could lose a Congressional seat, an Electoral College vote and federal funds.
— The president ordered the items declassified hoping to show there was a deep state conspiracy against him and his campaign. This includes parts of Carter Page’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and “all FBI reports” prepared in connection with the FISA warrant request.
— Trump also called for every text message sent from former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr related to the Russia investigation to be released.
3. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox has a plan to pay for Medicaid expansion — it’s not good
— Maddox said on Birmingham’s Talk 99.5 “Matt & Aunie Show” that he would pay for Medicaid expansion with a tax on existing gambling and expanding sports gambling.
— If they taxed current gambling at seven percent, it would bring in roughly $15 million a year, while sports gambling could bring in $30 million a year in neighboring Mississippi (with about 60 percent of the population) — far short of Maddox’s $150-200 million price tag.
2. President Donald Trump says of Kavanaugh nomination, “If it takes a little delay, that’s OK”
— President Trump made it clear that a delay would be fine but he is not backing down from supporting his choice for the Supreme Court.
— Trump continued to point out that Kavanaugh never “had a little blemish on his record” and repeated a point that Republicans are using to defend the judge, noting he had been through six FBI vettings (FBI will not investigate) and none of this came up until right before the vote.
— Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is forcefully pushing back against accusations that he attempted to rape 36 years ago when he was 17-years-old. He told Sen. Orrin Hatch that “he was not at a party like the one [Ford] describes.”
— As with any severe weather event that hits, the death toll from Hurricane Florence will continue to go up as the event and recovery play out. It sits at 17 right now.
— President Trump’s insistence that the numbers were inflated for political reasons continues to be an issue with FEMA director Brock Long, who stated the estimates on deaths were “all over the place.”
— With Trump’s approval ratings dipping into the 30s and Democrats leading on generic ballots by as much as 14 points, Republican politicians, pollsters and prognosticators believe this midterm election will be troubling.
— America First Action, a Trump aligned group, conducted a study that found “conservative-leaning” voters are complacent with the economy humming and believed the “blue wave” was “fake news,” and the president is pushing that message on Twitter and at rallies.
— Other Obama administration officials are helping Iran evade sanctions, according to a report at Breitbart. Republican operative Richard Goldberg says he has been told that “former senior Obama officials worked with European officials to design sanctions evasion schemes” before the sanctions go into place.
4. The latest book that shows chaos in the White House also has an author that says he saw nothing having to do with collusion with Russia
— “Fear” author Bob Woodward told talk show host Hugh Hewitt that after two years of looking, he found no collusion, telling Hewitt, “I did not, and of course, I looked for it, looked for it hard.”
— Hewitt asked Woodward the question multiple times, each time receiving the same answer that there was no evidence he could find of collusion. This revelation received very little acknowledgment from a media obsessed with both this book and this narrative.
3. Alabama Democrats disingenuously try to tie Gov. Kay Ivey to former Governor Robert Bentley
— The ploy here is that Ivey signed off on legal fees for the former governor, misusing state resources. The media will dutifully report this silliness without skepticism.
— The reality, as is with most things Walt Maddox is saying, is far different from the implication. the state is self-insured on these matters. this was set up in 1984, and it pays for the defense if someone is sued for actions taken in their official capacity.
— Now we have a name and allegation for the previously unnamed and unspecified allegation that is being released days before the Judiciary Committee is to vote on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
— Democrats, who sat on this allegation during public and private hearings with the nominee, now demand that the nominee be withdrawn or the process be paused while they investigate something Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has had since mid-summer.
— Senator Jones tweeted Sunday morning, “This was a very brave step to come forward. It is more important than ever to hit the pause button on Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote until we can fully investigate these serious and disturbing allegations. We cannot rush to move forward under this cloud.”
— Jones joins many Democrats and two Republican senators asking the confirmation to be withdrawn or process to be paused until they can investigate/speak to Kavanaugh and his accuser on this matter.
— A federal judge ruled that Cullman County must change its bail procedures because poor people can’t afford bail while the wealthy can get out of jail before trial, creating a two-tier justice system.
— California recently eliminated the process, opting for a series of monitoring measures like bracelets, which puts all the cost on taxpayers.
— The current Alabama Education Trust Fund budget is $6.6 billion and the state superintendent wants a budget increase of $158 million dollars, which includes money for nurses and security, but not the School Sentry Program.
— The School Sentry program was an election year play by the governor that allows school systems to have firearms on campus if they are locked in safes, which defeats the purpose.
— The shooting death of a suicidal man has cause controversy and claims of misdeeds by the city after they agreed to cover the costs of the officer involved in the shooting.
— Mayor Tommy Battle says the city “will respond to any evidentiary requests through the appropriate legal channels” but claims the media is “playing politics with our judicial system and the integrity of the police department.” This is a response to stories and columns at AL.com that allege there is a coverup.
— While speaking to state retirees, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee commented that he didn’t know who was running the state with statements like, “Who is running the governor?” and “Who is behind the governor?” and “Who is making the decisions for the governor? Or else you would want to come and debate.”
— The dutiful scribes and stooges like AL.com’s Kyle Whitmire are echoing Maddox and asking, “Who’s governor of Alabama?” He knows the answer is the same as it will be in December: Kay Ivey.
— At least two Democratic Congressional candidates (Peter Joffrion and Tabitha Isner) in Alabama have decided to embrace another plan on health care: “Medicare-for-all,” which is backed by Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders. Neither has explained how you would pay for such a plan and no one is interested in asking them.
— Maddox supports a plan that he admits will cost as much as $200 million. Joffrion and Isner’s plan would cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years, and none of them have a clue how to pay for their plans.
2. President Donald Trump gives the media what they want and joins them in continuing to litigate death tolls in Puerto Rico as a new Hurricane enters the mainland
— The president’s inability to let anything go has once again caused a firestorm of negative press as he quibbles over the number of dead in the aftermath of Puerto Rico’s two previous hurricanes.
— The 3,000 number mentioned by the media and accepted by Puerto Rico’s government is one of the higher estimates of multiple estimates. Other estimates have the number near 1,000, but this doesn’t matter as the president is focused on the wrong thing.
1. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) attempted to destroy Brett Kavanaugh with an anonymous letter accusing him of something
— Democrats’ smears of Kavanaugh are nothing new. Now, Senator Dianne Feinstein brought up an allegation from Kavanaugh’s high school days and turned it over to “federal investigative authorities.” The confirmation vote has been delayed in normal procedure.
— The latest absurd attempt is a claim that Kavanaugh and a male friend had locked her in a room against her will, making her feel threatened, but she was able to get out of the room.
7 Things: Maddox wants to spend $150-$200 million on Medicaid expansion, Trump now blamed for a hurricane, please accept there will be no gubernatorial debate and more …
7. President Donald Trump continues to be a terrible investment for all of those in the media who tell us he colluded with Russia to steal the election
— Trump signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against foreigners who meddle in U.S. elections. It covers interference with campaign infrastructure, distribution of disinformation and propaganda
— Also, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats has said intelligence agencies are not seeing the same amount of Russian intervention that was experienced in 2016, but he did not rule it out.
6. Political violence continues to be a non-issue for the media, as long as Democrats attempt it
— CNN had a chance to talk about the things they usually talk about when bad stuff happens: responsibility, tone, the victims. Instead, they didn’t ask Rep. Eric Swalwell about his opponent who was almost killed at all.
— Another threat towards conservatives came in the form of a tweet where a Twitter user responded to a tweet about a “MAGA meetup” by saying he was coming to gather “bloodstained MAGA hats as trophies” and posted a picture of a handgun.
— Six days after Senator Kamala Harris started lying and two days after Politifact called her a liar, Clinton is still trying to imply that Brett Kavanaugh was using a “dog whistle to the extreme right” for ending Roe v. Wade.
— This fake news continues to make the rounds on the Internet in spite of the fact that it is not even remotely true. It will probably continue long after Kavanaugh is confirmed.
— Median income up 1.8%, third consecutive year of income growth, the poverty rate declined and median household income is at the highest level in recorded US history.
— But Trump seems to not understand our national debt issue. Former economic advisor Gary Cohn reportedly said the president’s solution was to “just run the presses — print money.” Cohn denies.
3. We are still doing this thing where the media pretends there might be a debate — Governor Kay Ivey is playing along
— The League of Women Voters wanted to know if Governor Ivey would be participating in their attempt to televise a debate, but she claims she hasn’t seen the offer yet. She will not participate.
— No political consultant worth anything would advise the governor to enter into this debate. There is no evidence not debating will hurt her; at this point, Maddox and his media enablers should move on to other issues of note where Maddox can gain with voters.
2. Trump is blamed for a hurricane that hasn’t even made landfall yet — Derangement continues to grip the media
— Apparently, the president should reverse what The Washington Post Editorial Board considers a man-made problem in 18 months.
— This ignores that the number of hurricanes has decreased in recent years. Research indicates that “since the late-19th Century global (green) and tropical Atlantic (blue) temperatures have risen […] once one accounts for possible missed storms (second and third red lines) basinwide storms have not exhibited a significant increase. When one focuses only on landfalling storms (yellow lines) the nominal trend has been for a decrease.” Now, the argument is shifting to the hurricanes being “worse.”
1. Democratic nominee for governor Walt Maddox wants to expand Medicaid — He doesn’t have a plan to pay for it
— Maddox channeled the failed gubernatorial campaigns of Parker Griffith and Ron Sparks, and the favorite talking point of the political media, to declare we need to expand Medicaid (which comes with a $150-$200 million price tag).
— In the past, Maddox has foolishly called the program “free money.” Legislators aren’t talking about this because they don’t want to do it, they don’t have the money to pull it off and Maddox has no plan either.
Alabama’s coal industry continues to fuel the expanding Port of Mobile
MOBILE – With the news breaking Monday that Alabama’s entire congressional delegation supports the proposed modernization and expansion – including major deepening and widening – of the Port of Mobile, I am once again left in awe at what the Port – and its success – means for the entire state.
It was a surprisingly cool summer day when I visited the Port in August, a steady breeze off the water making the normally blanket-like heat quite bearable. I was there on a tour organized by the Alabama Coal Association, with its President Patrick Cagle leading the charge.
We all shuttled in on a small transit bus, like you would find at a hotel, to the McDuffie Coal Terminal and proceeded into a small metal-sided office building for a quick briefing from the Port’s Deputy Director, Smitty Thorne, who is a longtime public servant set to retire in February.
I went into their conference room thinking I knew how important the Port was to the state and that the coal industry played a large role in that, but the facts and figures that the Port staff shared were staggering nonetheless.
First, let me just get this out of the way – the Port does not take a dime from the state budget, i.e. the General Fund. It is completely self-sufficient, generating around $160 million in annual revenue that is pumped back into continual improvements of the Port.
And the continual improvement is paying off – Alabama’s Port is the fastest growing container port in North America, at a 20 percent growth rate this year. It is now the 10th largest port between the U.S., Canada and Mexico and the second and third largest steel and coal ports respectively. The Port of Mobile also finds itself a major mover of automotive parts and breakbulk forest products.
They are constantly innovating, too. We are talking real-time tracking of individual slabs of steel with RFID chips, with them handling 3.3 million tons of slabs annually; a state-of-the-art “AutoMobile International” roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro) facility that will boost automotive exports considerably when it is completed in late 2019 or early 2020; a world-class transportation network to and from the Port, including five national (Class 1) railroads, three short line railroads and easy access to both I-65 and I-10; and now the proposed plan for deepening and widening.
The Port handled a massive number of vessels in fiscal year 2017 – 1623 to be exact – and is responsible for an irreplaceable 134,608 direct and indirect jobs. That number equals a staggering 15.08 percent of Alabama’s total wage and salaried employees.
This also leads to more huge top-line numbers, including the Port’s annual economic impact of $22.4 billion and their yearly generated tax revenue of $486.9 million.
Now, let me preface this again. I knew, probably more than most, that coal played a huge part in the Port’s business. I have been to an Alabama surface mine and greatly appreciate the tremendous economic impact the coal industry has on the Yellowhammer State. But I learned something new in a big way.
Coal accounts for fifty percent – yes, half – of the Port’s total business.
Needless to say, the “War on Coal” was a huge hit to the Port and to Alabama. For example, once serving seven steam (energy-producing) coal plants, the Port now only serves two.
But there has been an improvement after President Obama left office, with conditions and optimism considerably and rightfully higher in the industry. The Port even saw a nine percent volume increase in coal transit last year.
For the Port, a large part of their recent boon has been the emergence of Warrior Met Coal – now the Port’s single biggest customer by far.
Warrior Met mines metallurgical (met) coal used to produce coke, which is pivotal in steelmaking and has been on a tear since it bought the high-quality mines left untapped by Walter Energy’s 2016 bankruptcy.
Trading on the New York Stock Exchange (HCC), the Alabama company is excited about the good market outlook for met coal exporting, which also spells more good news for the Port. Of the 14 million tons of coal mined in the state last year, Warrior Met accounted for 7.5 million – well over fifty percent.
At the end of the briefing, Deputy Director Thorne said that the surging economic conditions, for the Port especially led by strong outlooks for the Alabama met coal and steel industries, meant that they anticipated 2018 to show another year of double-digit percentage growth.
It was on that note of optimism that we embarked from the unassuming office to tour the McDuffie Coal Terminal itself.
Stepping outside the narrow office doors, you look around and can not help but see coal and containers. They each rise high – cities of containers, plateaus of coal towering as far as the eye can wander.
We got back on the shuttle bus, headed eventually to hop aboard a tugboat. On the first attempt to get there, we ran into a train stopped on an intersection we needed to get to. The driver of the Great Southern Wood truck in front of us might not have been too pleased, but the train being at a standstill was actually a good thing, a sign of the rising economic tide, as it had stopped to take double its normal load due to an uptick in business.
We turned around and circled to the other side of McDuffie. As I first noticed when we had arrived, there were puddles everywhere – which was strange since it had not rained that day or the day previous. But it finally struck me as we drove by a sign that read “15 mph … think dust.” The Port is so dusty – think thousands of acres of dirt – that they have to water the barren ground just to stop it from kicking up into workers’ and drivers’ faces.
It was explained to us shortly after that the Port uses their own drainage water on the roads and shoulders to control the dust – another simple but cost-saving innovation.
When we arrived at the Parker Towing vessel to go out on the water, I could feel the teeming energy of the place building – the train cars rumbling, the salt air blowing softly and the peaceful ebb of the water making the buzzing optimism of the place come alive. Everything about the place was striking – even the simple contrast of little white birds flittering about on the jet-black masses of coal.
We boarded after a safety lesson and donning vests, out onto the water to see where the hard work happens. It was a confluence of characters, all who make the Port’s success possible, that made the tour so meaningful.
Besides the ever-so-important and equally under-appreciated Port employees, you had the Parker Towing employees, who are top-notch operators of barges and waterway freight up and down Alabama’s waterways; Warrior Met employees, many of whom have been in the coal industry for a lifetime and came over from Walter Energy or other companies that did not survive the Obama Administration; Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, who is helping lead Gov. Ivey’s historic employment successes; and public officials, including incoming state legislators Chris Elliot and Shane Stringer and Rep. David Sessions, who will be transitioning into the state Senate this coming term.
The Port is the lifeblood of Alabama, and the coal industry is largely the driver of this status – again, think fifty percent of the Port’s business. To experience first-hand what goes into making this possible was rewarding. But to see Alabama’s congressional delegation cross the normal partisan lines this week to ensure the Port’s future competitiveness was historic.
As Sen. Richard Shelby said, “This project will create an avenue for exponential growth.”
As the proposed plan for its expansion moves forward in the approval process, remember the real impact the Port has. Not only the dollars and cents, but the people – again, 134,608 jobs. If you take into account the average Alabama household size, this equates to over 340,000 people that rely on the Port of Mobile for their livelihood.
Without the coal industry, this number would not be nearly as large. So, when you hear a politician say that only a handful of counties have mines and are affected by the industry, just know the real facts.
From Sand Mountain through the Birmingham metro area even into the Black Belt and down to the Gulf Coast, coal is still king in Alabama.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
7 Things: McCain replacement open to killing Obamacare while GOP isn’t, another Alabama student on video saying the n-word, Scarborough and other ghouls catch flack for crass 9/11 Trump comments and more …
— Don’t expect to see this political violence to lead the newscasts today: Rudy Peters was attacked by Farzad Vincent Fazeli as he screamed about President Donald Trump. In the attack, he attempted to pull a switchblade but could not get the blade out.
— Peters is the opponent of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California), who was in Alabama last week campaigning against Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks)
— The controversy over Nike’s continued support of NFL-kneeler Colin Kaepernick has made its way to the pulpit in Woodridge Baptist Church in Mobile.
— Senior Pastor Dr. Mack Morris told his congregation that he felt this was about those who sacrificed it all for the flag Kaepernick and other’s won’t stand for. He stated, “America may not be the best country in the world and we have a lot of faults, but I tell you what, a lot of folks died for the sake of what the flag represents.”
— The likelihood of a blue wave may be growing in the United States, but most expect Alabama to remain pretty red. But that isn’t stopping Birmingham’s progressive mayor from trying to play a role.
— By forming the “Next Generation Alabama” PAC, Woodfin says he hopes to find blue people in a “sea of red.” The mayor believes he can help find the Democrat “bench,” which is pretty non-existent.
3. It wasn’t just MSNBC’s Alabama graduate Joe Scarborough who decided 9/11 was a good way to attack President Trump
— Trump was attacked for early morning tweets, watching TV, fist-pumping, being a threat to our voting system and, as Scarborough put it, “damaging the dream of America more than any terrorist attack ever could.”
2. Another Alabama high school student is caught on video saying the n-word
— The parent who found the video placed the blame on the school system for some reason asking, “Really? Is this really what we’re teaching our children in Birmingham, AL, ‘Over the Mountain?'” and telling the Board of Education, which said they will punish the student, “here I come.”
— Oddly, the parent also said the video could lead to violence that sounded like a threat, saying, “Her behavior is something that could lend itself to violence. I hope not, but we’ll see”, she proclaimed.
— In a famous moment, the late John McCain delivered the final “thumbs down” to Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare. His replacement says he would vote to kill it for good.
— Now that Kyl is in the Senate, Republicans in leadership like Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) have declared, “I’m not going to be asking for another vote on that this year.” House leaders like Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) say that the focus is on winning elections in November.
7 Things: 9/11 remembrance and politicization, Rep. Mo Brooks and Trump Jr. agree on illegals stealing Congressional seats, more Strzok/Page texts show media conspiracy and more …
(Wikicommons, M. Brooks/Facebook)
7. Former Alabama player and current State Representative Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa) says sports gambling “scares” him “to death”
— Wingo, who is clear in his opposition to gambling being legitimized and warns of a “gradual eroding of our culture,” has allowed this debate to take place. That wouldn’t have been possible in the 70s or 80s.
— The former Alabama and Green Bay Packers player explained to Alabama Public Television how the FBI would show up every year at players’ meetings, explaining that, “the mob, for the lack of a better term – professional gamblers, would try to possibly infiltrate a team or an individual through compromise … so that they could eventually, either befriend or through leverage of threat, manipulate a game.”
6. “Fact-checkers” in the media have finally gotten around to calling out Senator Kamala Harris’ (D-California) ignorant smears on Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh
— Four days after Sen. Harris sent out tweets intentionally taking Kavanaugh out of context to claim he was holding a view he never expressed, Politifact finally rated her smear as “false,” and added, “The video failed to include a crucial qualifier: ‘They said.’ In fact, he was citing the definition of the religious group Priests for Life. He has not expressed his personal view.”
— The president’s claim that “The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!” was incorrect. This has happened at least 60 times in the last century.
— This is the kind of sloppy stuff the president doesn’t need to do. The fact that this is happening for the first time in over 10 years (2006 Q1) and blue collar jobs are growing at the fastest rate in 30 years is plenty newsworthy.
— While most Democrats don’t want to give the president and his quasi-allies in the GOP establishment any ammo, some Democrats like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) cannot help themselves.
— Waters seems to want to fire-up both parties’ bases by adding, “I’m gonna get him.” She also said that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) should not have apologized to Brett Kavanaugh for all the interruptions during his confirmation hearings.
— More texts have been realized between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI love-birds, apparently detailing an effort inside the DOJ to “leak” to friendly members of the press to damage the president of the United States.
— During some of the texts, the two discuss leaking info to the press that became negative stories about Carter Page. Strzok texted Page, “Well done, Page,” and told her the negative stories about the “namesake” would soon be released.
— The former Republican Congressman ignorantly pretends that he believes the elections in 2018 are about stopping Trump from doing more damage to America than 9/11, writing, “The question for voters this fall is whether their country will move beyond this troubled chapter in history or whether they will continue supporting a politician who has done more damage to the dream of America than any foreign adversary ever could.”
— “The Common Sense Campaign Tea Party” and “The Human Wall Against Hate” squared off in a protest over something so idiotic only the most liberal of liberals would dare defend it: a bunch of children’s books read to kids by drag queens.
— Parents were there to weaponize their children in our culture wars with thank you notes from a seven-year-old and three-year-old whose parents are “happy they finally have stuff like this.”
— Last week, Mike Rogers told WVNN radio that he saw a 70 percent chance the Republicans lose the House. Now, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel says the odds are 50-50 Republicans “defy history” and keep the House.
— As the media sows chaos in the White House, CNN was in Alabama reporting that “Folks around here look out for their own. They don’t like the way the president is now treating the attorney general.” The report included quotes from plenty of Alabamians.
— Hagan is a former Miss America who left Alabama after one year at Auburn. Hagan said she left Alabama for New York City because she “didn’t like the culture of Alabama.”
— While she is now running for Congress in Alabama, she was a Miss America winner from New York in 2013 and saw herself as a New Yorker, saying “I’ve lived in like six different Brooklyn neighborhoods, so I definitely consider myself a New Yorker.”
2. Last week’s confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh was a disgrace to the country, but he will still be confirmed in spite of Alabama Senator Doug Jones’ wishes
— Representatives Brooks, Byrne, Roby and Rogers all put out social media messages extolling the success of President Trump at living up to his promises to help the economy grow, with Rogers adding, “think the left will still find a way to complain?”
Huntsville commercial real estate agent James Lomax fills in for Dale Jackson and joins Dr. Waymon Burke. The two take you through this week's biggest political stories, including:– How sure of a thing is the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination?– President Donald Trump reportedly called Attorney General Jeff Sessions a "dumb Southerner." Will this upset Trump's base?– Why did Nike wade back into the Colin Kaepernick kneeling mess?Lomax closes the show with a "parting shot" about getting out and voting.
Economic Development Partnership of Alabama helping to grow jobs with AdvantageSite
Last week, Alabama ranked atop “Global Trade” magazine’s 2018 list of the best states for manufacturing in the nation, and a big factor – that often goes unnoticed – towards this achievement is the important work done by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA).
The selection of Alabama in the ranking of top manufacturing states comes one month after “Business Facilities,” an economic development focused publication, named the Yellowhammer State as the best in a business-climate ranking.
Site selection opportunities are key to Alabama’s lofty rankings, and the non-profit organization EDPA plays a key role in these efforts through its AdvantageSite program.
The program, which was created in 2008 to position communities throughout the state for economic growth, has directly resulted in 35 projects which have created over 6,435 Alabama jobs and capital investment in the state of $1.4 billion.
AdvantageSite is jointly sponsored by the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Alabama Power Company, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, Spire and the North Alabama Industrial Development Association.
The program confirms that documentation critical to the site selection process is ready for prospective industry, allowing the industry to quickly identify and gather information about potential development sites around the state.
AdvantageSite is a voluntary program that allows communities to demonstrate that due diligence has been done on their respective designated site. However, this does not imply that other properties in the state do not meet the same criteria – designated sites have simply undergone a vetting process to be pre-certified, showing that important information is readily available.
Alabama recognizes that site location decisions require detailed information and shorter deadlines. The state’s economic development team knows that companies seeking to locate a new facility are allowing less time for site selection, site development and project construction. To meet the needs of industry, Alabama’s economic development community is working to designate an inventory of industrial sites with sufficient site documentation for accurate, timely project evaluation.
AdvantageSite designated locations are featured on EDPA’s buildings and sites database – the comprehensive statewide database of industrial buildings and sites used by site selection consultants, state economic developers, and companies looking to expand in Alabama. A quick glance at this database provides information about utility, rail and highway access, as well as geographic and technical information.
Why is this important for Alabamians?
Industrial sites with AdvantageSite designation have undergone a rigorous process to demonstrate that documentation critical to the site selection process is ready for prospective industries.
“Pre-certifying development sites tend to attract major projects,” emphasized “Global Trade,” as it highlighted the AdvantageSite program.
Thirty-five new or expanding industries have located on sites with AdvantageSite designations since the program’s founding in 2008. These projects created over 6,435 jobs and spurred capital investment of $1.4 billion. There are currently 59 active AdvantageSite locations with five more in the pipeline.
“Sites that are awarded the AdvantageSite designation do have an advantage,” Greg Blalock, EDPA’s AdvantageSite coordinator, said in a statement.
He continued, “We’re getting inquiries from other state economic development organizations that are looking at creating similar programs for a reason – they’re effective. There is value in a site having a formal designation. It is visible evidence that a site has been looked at by a third party, or in this case, multiple parties, who can confirm that essential information on the site is readily available and correct.”
What are the general requirements for a site to receive the designation?
To gain the AdvantageSite designation, a community’s economic development organizations must provide documentation specific to a proposed industrial site, including a set of standard data related to ownership or control, environmental and geotechnical conditions and infrastructure status.
• Recognized local economic development entity
• Applicant or other recognized economic development entity must document ownership/control of the site
• Site must be marketable for a minimum of four years (the length of designation)
• Minimum of 25 developable acres in a prepared industrial park or 50 developable acres not located in an industrial park
• Accessible, at a minimum, by a two-lane, paved public roadway
• Zoning for the site clearly permits industrial land uses or, where no zoning exists, an industrial use compatible with existing land uses in the vicinity
• Local government must support industrial use of the property
• Public water and wastewater: Documentation of status. (Where service is not at the site, preliminary plans, cost estimates, and timelines are required)
• Electric power: Documentation of status
• Natural gas: Where natural gas is available, documentation of status
• Telecommunications: Documentation regarding the location, extent and quality of service
Environmental and Geotechnical Due Diligence
• Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
• Preliminary wetlands assessment
• Preliminary geotechnical exploration
• Information concerning rare or endangered species, archeological findings or sites with historical concerns
What is the process?
• Download and email the Pre-Consultation Checklist with attachments
• Review submitted properties
• Receive Consultation Checklist and Workforce/Education/Training Worksheet
• Schedule and prepare for Consultation to review studies and workforce worksheet
• Receive Application
• Schedule desktop and On-Site visit (for sites that meet all criteria)
Once a site has received AdvantageSite designation, the site will keep the designation for four years, provided that the site continues to meet the criteria and the applicant complies with the reporting requirements. Applicants can apply to renew sites at the close of the four-year period.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
7 Things: ‘Anonymous’ administration official rips Trump, Kavanaugh hints at protecting Roe v. Wade, Senator Shelby defends the South and more …
7. Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has now decided to sue CBS, Showtime and Sacha Baron Cohen over a joke played at his expense
— Moore’s lawsuit is based on the fact that Moore signed a release under false pretenses after Cohen invited Moore and his wife to an award ceremony and interview where he implied Moore set off a device that was supposedly invented by the Israeli Army to detect pedophiles.
— Moore’s lawyers say he has “been the subject of widespread ridicule and humiliation” and seeks $95 million for the “severe emotional distress and pain and financial damage.”
6. A Birmingham city councilwoman wants to punish parents for their kid’s crimes
— After seven teens were shot following a teen party in Birmingham, Councilwoman Lashunda Scales said Birmingham could cut down on the crimes committed by the youth if parents were held responsible the violent acts of their children.
— Scales is citing Hillary Clinton’s “it takes a village” comments saying, “We got to send a strong message to parents it is not the responsibility of the community, it is not the responsibility of the police department, it is not the responsibility of the village to raise your children.”
— Jumping on board of the trend of naming Minor League Baseball something unique and silly, the now-Mobile Baybears will be renamed the Rocket City Trash Pandas with the move to Madison. They begin play in 2020.
— The Trash Pandas join the ranks of other minor league teams with marketing-friendly names, including El Paso Chihuahuas, Hartford Yard Goats, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, New Orleans Baby Cakes, Reading Fightin Phils, Omaha Storm Chasers and Frisco RoughRiders.
4. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is looking into targeted political censorship at social media giants
— Sessions says he will summon state attorney generals later to talk about censorship and other issues, the DOJ said the companies “may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms,” but a governmental action on that level seems unlikely.
— The House Freedom Caucus is also looking at this issue, with discussion potentially leading to a conversation about the legal immunity these companies enjoy.
— Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson clearly doesn’t believe that Southerners, like him, are inferior. He stated, “I’m a Southerner. People can judge my intellect, my IQ, by my product and what I produce rather than what somebody else says.”
— Senator Shelby reminded the president, “Without the South, he wouldn’t be the president of the United States,” and also pointed out that he also has an accent.
— One of the more intriguing parts of the Kavanaugh appointment is the question of whether or not he would vote to do away with Roe v. Wade. When asked, he said the ruling was “an important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times.”
— What is now more likely is that a court with Kavanaugh on it would uphold restrictions on abortion in states as long as they don’t outlaw it completely.
1. Now we have an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times that where a “current Trump administration official” claims they are part of the “Resistance”
— The rare, and absurd, act of publishing this piece anonymously only further solidifies the idea that the media is on a mission to diminish this president and his objectives.
— The headline and narrative are a bit misleading, to be kind. It includes this section, “To be clear, ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.”
Alabama abortion case could make history when SCOTUS nominee Kavanaugh is confirmed
(PBS NewsHour/YouTube, Pixabay)
Alabama has a significant chance to make the history books if President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, is confirmed as expected.
Attorney General Steve Marshall announced he was “disappointed” and “carefully considering” an appeal to the United States Supreme Court two weeks ago after a federal court struck down the state’s law that bans the most frequently used second-trimester abortion procedure.
The law, passed in 2016 and entitled the Alabama Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act, had previously been struck down by a lower federal judge in late 2017.
Now, with another seemingly pro-life justice possibly coming on to the highest court in the land and giving pro-lifers a 5-4 voting advantage, a Supreme Court appeal of this decision by the state of Alabama could very well be a case for the ages.
Yellowhammer News reported immediately after the decision that there may be a silver lining down the road for pro-life Americans, and this may come to fruition.
In the 11th Circuit decision, Chief Judge Ed Carnes wrote that “dismemberment” is an accurate description for the procedure the state law banned, but ruled against the state in deference to the highest court in the land.
“In our judicial system, there is only one Supreme Court, and we are not it,” he stated.
Marshall was “disappointed” in the ruling, but seemingly encouraged by the potential of taking the case before the Supreme Court.
“I am disappointed that the 11th Circuit sided with the lower court in this case, but it is encouraging that the court recognized the State’s important and legitimate interests in ending barbaric abortion procedures – in this case, procedures that literally tear apart babies living inside their mothers’ wombs,” Marshall said in a press release.
He added, “I also appreciate Judge Dubina’s separate opinion that the United States Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence ‘has no basis in the Constitution.’”
“Our legal team is carefully considering whether we will petition the Supreme Court for review of this case,” Marshall concluded. “We expect to reach a decision soon.”
With Kavanaugh likely set to don his new robes this fall, liberals have been crying out that the end of Roe v. Wade might very well be near.
Whether the imminent appeal by the Yellowhammer State would result in that much of a success is unclear (but not probable). Nonetheless, taking the Alabama Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act before the newly composed Supreme Court will almost certainly roll back abortion rights in a way the nation has not seen since 1973.
This historic-appeal-to-be is supported by Governor Kay Ivey and – make no mistake – by AG Marshall, too.
In an editorial published Tuesday by the Montgomery Advertiser, Marshall said that Kavanaugh’s confirmation also will be good for Alabama because of the judge’s stance on religious liberty, Second Amendment rights, federal overreach and interpreting – not making – laws.
“The U.S. Senate should swiftly confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Marshall concluded.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
7 Things: Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing goes off the rails immediately, Trump team allows Bob Woodward access to ravage the administration, California Democrat continues his swing through Alabama ‘helping’ Rep. Mike Rogers’ opponent and more …
(New York Times/YouTube)
7. Most of Alabama’s voter issues have been resolved by Secretary of State John Merrill
— Each and every election has a series of voter complaints and irregularities, the secretary of state’s office says they have resolved all complaints from 2016 and 2017.
— There are 58 pending complaints from 2018. There were 764 from 2015 to 2018, which includes complaints from unauthorized campaigning at the polls up to voting fraud.
6. Former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, who hired a rapist for her campaign, is now demanding that Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley and Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Reed resign
— Cobb wrote an editorial for the Anniston Star calling on the beleaguered, and powerful pair, to step down for the good of the party so new blood could be recruited.
— The complaints are obvious and have been repeated by friends and foes of the Democratic Party. She wrote, “It should be easy to take advantage of the felony conviction of the former Republican speaker of the House and for his violation of the ethics laws he championed in his rise to power”.
5. ALGOP Chairwoman Terry Lathan calls out Senator Doug Jones, says it is time for him to decide where he stands on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee
— Alabama’s Jones has been coy about where he stands on the potential Justice Kavanaugh, but with a hearing underway, the pressure is mounting on the state’s junior Senator to make a decision before he appears to be counting votes.
— Lathan released a statement calling on Jones to “hear the voices of Alabamians” and make a decision to support Kavanaugh.
4. State Senator Phil Williams gets on Fox and Friends to tout Alabama’s economy and to invite more businesses to the state
— After California Democrats declared a boycott on In-And-Out Burger, the state Senator made a now-viral suggestion that the chain come to Alabama because “We love burgers, and we love Republicans!”
— On Tuesday’s “Fox and Friends”, Williams acted as the state’s hype-man, saying, “Alabama is sitting right now poised as one of the best business climates in the entire nation. And we are sitting at record low unemployment, 3.7 percent earlier this year.”
— Trump’s insults to his staff include calling Jeff Sessions “mentally-retarded” and a dumb Southerner.” He also reportedly called Rudy Giuliani a “baby” who needed to “act like a man.”
— His staff gives as good as it gets, with John Kelly reportedly saying, “It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown.” Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus reportedly referred to the president’s bedroom as “the devil’s playground.”
1. Absurdly partisan posturing by Democrats during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearing is surpassed only by the media’s coverage
— The media has taken a series of absurd positions, including expressing concern that Kavanaugh was shunning the father of a school shooting victim and fears that one of his aides was flashing a “white power” symbol.
— Kavanaugh’s hearing will probably be focused on two things: Roe v. Wade and whether the president can be indicted, a position that he switched on in 2009, saying, it would “ill serve the public interest,” citing a financial or a national security crisis.
5. The Democratic version of a heavy hitter is Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who was brought in to stump for a candidate for Congress Peter Joffrion
— Joffrion’s long-shot campaign seeks momentum, ran a TV ad during college football games last weekend and is now bringing in liberal darlings to the state.
— Swalwell rose to fame in Democratic circles when he suggested that the government should “ban assault weapons, buy them back, go after resisters.”
4. Former Democratic Congressman and candidate for governor Parker Griffith is joining in on the criticism of Birmingham’s move to be more “welcoming” for illegals
— Griffith co-hosted a TV show this weekend and talked about the political ambitions of Mayor Randall Woodfin being placed over the city he oversees. He said, “So he’s positioned himself on this, not for necessarily the good of Birmingham, but for the good of his political future.”
— Part of the criticism from Griffith was that Birmingham can’t handle the crime it has without welcoming in more. Meanwhile, seven were shot at a kids party.
— Trump’s latest attack on Sessions is for daring to prosecute Republicans in an election year and nothing more by tweeting, “Two long-running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well-publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……”
— The drama between the two is mostly centering around Trump’s frustration with the Mueller probe, Sessions’ recusal from all things 2016 and the DOJ not indicting the president’s political enemies.
— Aderholt believes Trump’s promise of border security must be acted on, “I feel like all us feel like he needs to do that. It is a very important it issue. I think we’ll see what the Democrats want to do.”
— He also seems to believe that Democrats will follow through with their threat of a government shutdown if funding for the wall were included in the current appropriations process. He stated, “If they want to shut down the government over saying – no funding for the wall, so I think it’s really up to them.”
— U.S. Sen. John McCain’s funeral was an embarrassment reminiscent of the 2002 Wellstone Memorial debacle. Voices who knew better spent the event (funeral) ripping the current president in as tacky a way possible.
Review: Reckon Radio’s University of Alabama ‘Machine’ podcast – Not bad, but why so serious?
(University of Alabama)
The haves versus the have-nots is a tension that exists at almost every traditional college campus.
At the University of Alabama, it’s the Greeks versus the troubled independents, who think it is unfair that they are excluded from the system. The Greeks have the cool parties, the nice houses, tasty meals. The non-Greeks, at least the ones who care about not being Greek, are only able to see it from afar.
One of the biggest gripes from the have-nots is that the Greek system was wise enough to figure out how to vote in a bloc and defeat any loosely organized non-Greek effort.
Out of that emotional backlash, mythology is born: The all-powerful University of Alabama Machine.
There is no doubt “The Machine” is a real thing. Its existence has been written about and documented over the years. As an organized bloc, it wields some power on the University of Alabama campus.
Lore, however, has contributed to the impression that “The Machine” enjoys substantial influence both on campus and throughout the state of Alabama. To be sure, we can attribute at least half of “The Machine’s” power to merely thin air.
While much of “The Machine’s” power is hype, at least to some, the legend has become synonymous with fact. In this environment, Alabama fraternity antics—which under any other circumstance would be treated as dumb college kids doing dumb college kid stuff— have been built into an apparently evil secret cabal of future Alabama leaders.
I know what you’re thinking: Oh boy, another knock-off of some NPR-quality production steeped in social justice themes and snowflake millennial victimology! And you would be correct.
The podcast also comes complete with elements of beta-male score-settling.
Finally, after all these years, the nerds at AL(dot)com are getting their revenge for never being invited to those Greek parties and socials in those gaudy fraternity and sorority houses on the University of Alabama campus!
We’re told we should care because “The Machine” is grooming our future leaders and it can impact everyone lives.
“It’s one of those things when you first hear about it, you can’t understand the hold it has on our campus and the state of Alabama – even sometimes nationally,” Amber Scales, a former SGA presidential candidate and director of the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion effort says on the podcast, arguing that for nearly 150 years a small proportion of the student body has held power, “kind of, generally 8,000 people controlling a campus of 38,000.”
“That’s mind-boggling to me,” Scales continues. “And the crazier part is how they have an effect on, you know, elections outside of our campus. So people think, ‘Oh you know, it’s SGA election. Why should I care?’ Because these people end up your senators. They end up your representatives. They end up your governors. You know, those real positions of power and they use our campus as a training ground. If that’s not the death of democracy, I don’t know what is.”
Holy cow, Batman! The “death of democracy” on the University of Alabama campus? How can this possibly be?!
Does anyone at AL(dot)com believe this? I doubt it, and even the ones at AL(dot)com who lived through “The Machine” as students at the University of Alabama – John Archibald, John Hammontree, I’m talking to you guys – you probably immediately moved on with your lives to more pressing matters than the overhyped antics of an underground society of 18-to-22-year-olds.
Yes, “The Machine” may very well have broken into an office or have wiretapped a phone. Those are undoubtedly serious matters—but don’t we, as a society, chalk up such antics to dumb college pranks? And aren’t the responsible parties still accountable to the law?
Beyond the unnecessary demonization of college kids, the Reckon podcast’s central thesis, which is we should care about Alabama’s fraternity row because they will one day control the state, rings hollow.
Indeed, “The Machine” is hardly owning Montgomery these days. Consider these exhibits:
Governor Kay Ivey – Auburn grad
Future Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth – Auburn grad
Attorney General Steve Marshall – UNC-Chapel Hill undergrad, UA law school
Secretary of State John Merrill – University of Alabama grad and anti-Machine champion.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler* – also a University of Alabama grad and anti-Machine champion.
*Note: This podcast is one of the few times in recent memory anyone at AL(dot)com has taken Jim Zeigler seriously.
Also, for good measure, the podcast rhetorically indicts “The Machine” for being active in local Tuscaloosa city elections. A candidate who sought the support of the Alabama Greeks had to defend doing so, as if these college students shouldn’t have a say in the local politics of the city they reside.
But those students probably should have known better. I mean, voting as a bloc in elections outside of campus is not OK, that is unless it is December 2017 and AL(dot)com darling Doug Jones is in a tight race against Roy Moore.
The story of “The Machine” is a worthy topic, but you kind of wish the approach was a little more open-minded instead of this damning exposé.
One must wonder, did Reckon do anything to stymy the mythology surrounding Greek power at the University of Alabama? Or, in a twist of irony, did Reckon add into the ongoing narrative that “The Machine” is an all-powerful entity one crosses at one’s peril?
Even though the latter is hype, this Reckon podcast series feeds that narrative. If you didn’t know anything about “The Machine” or had limited knowledge of it before listening to the podcast, you would think it is omnipotent. In its effort to “expose,” Reckon has only made “The Machine” that much stronger and more legendary.
7 Things: Europe and Canada blink on trade, Alabama TV station spreading fake news is confirmed, AG Jeff Sessions is safe and more …
7. Sorry, Alabama’s federal employees, but no pay raise
— President Donald Trump is wanting to kill an across the board 2.1 percent pay raise for federal employees, saying, “We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases”.
— In-N-Out Burger is a famous regional fast food chain that made the mistake of giving money to California Republicans and now they must be punished. California Democratic Chairman Eric Bauman said, “[L]et Trump and his cronies support these creeps”.
— They also gave $30,000 and $50,000 to a Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy PAC, which supports pro-business Democrats, but that doesn’t matter because Democrats want to hurt a local business.
5. While Birmingham refuses to allow its police officers to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE is out arresting criminal illegal immigrants
— Huntsville’s WZDX is reporting that Brian Cox, Southern Region Communications Director for ICE said, “ICE has arrested a total of approximately 30 persons in violation of federal immigration law across Northern Alabama this week in accordance with its ongoing daily enforcement activity.”
— Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice is reporting the arrests took place in Huntsville. They “warn” that the Trump administration is more aggressive than the previous administration, and is advocating that people take pictures of ICE officers.
— A day after Politico referenced “unnamed sources” to report that Trump was ready to fire Sessions, and that he “has come to resent” Sessions, but Trump told Bloomberg news that the AG’s “job is safe at least until the midterm elections in November.”
— Trump continued to call on Sessions to investigate former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and adding, “I just would love to have him do a great job.”
3. President Donald Trump held a rally and the pearl clutchers in the press whined it was wrong as they ripped him on multiple other issues
— Trump’s rally hit the usual notes against fake news, Democrat Rep. Joe Donnelly’s support for Nancy Pelosi and illegal immigrants.
— Talk of “optics” and “appropriateness” of a Trump campaign rally on the same day as Sen. John McCain memorial events was called into question by people who continue to use McCain’s death to pound Trump.
2. Fake news media in Alabama caught manipulating the news to embarrass Governor Kay Ivey — They don’t care
— Audio recording shows NBC 15 in Mobile chose the video that they thought portrayed Governor Ivey in the worst light.
— Reporter James Gordon asked the governor two similar questions about a potential debate and utilized a video clip that both omitted the answer and made it appear the governor was unable to answer the question.
1. Trump’s tariffs seem to be bearing fruit all over the globe — Mexico, Canada and Europe all seem to be making steps towards the U.S.
— Europe’s offer to end tariffs on automobiles has been rejected by Trump, who says it’s not good enough, even though they were “willing to bring down even our car tariffs to zero, all tariffs to zero, if the U.S. does the same.”
7 Things: Fake outrage over ‘monkey’ comments rule the day, Trump fights Google while Facebook employees allege political discrimination, your kids can no longer play dodgeball in Alabama schools and more …
— Revised numbers show a higher boost in Gross Domestic Product than originally reported. There was actually a 4.2 percent annualized rate, up slightly from the 4.1 percent pace of expansion it reported in July. While that number doesn’t look huge, it is big in the scheme of the entire GDP.
— This is the economy’s best performance in almost four years, as business reporters report the debunked narrative about soybeans being sold before the tariffs hit.
— Politico is reporting that Trump is reaching out to “any senator who will listen” in order to continue pressuring the Republicans to publicly support the firing of the attorney general. Senators Richard Shelby and Lindsey Graham have recently signaled the end is near.
— Insanely, part of the problem has been reported that “Trump has come to resent [Sessions] for other reasons, griping to aides and lawmakers that the attorney general doesn’t have the Ivy League pedigree the president prefers, that he can’t stand his Southern accent and that Sessions isn’t a capable defender of the president on television — in part because he ‘talks like he has marbles in his mouth,’ the president has told aides.”
4. As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls ICE “a bunch of thugs,” Birmingham declares it will not work with ICE at all
— Mayor Randall Woodfin told NPR, “We’re not going to use our police to do anything around what I call rounding up people,” and confirmed that Birmingham will not work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
— A list of children’s games like dodgeball, musical chairs and “Duck. Duck. Goose!” was banned in the 90s as part of an attempt to be more inclusive, they came to light this week after an aide e-mailed the list to PE teachers around the state.
— The current superintendent rightly dismissed this nonsense, saying, “Go back, tell your principals to take care of their own P.E. problems, please.”
2. Trump continues to call out Google — Some Facebook employees are tired of liberal intolerance
— President Trump is still saying Google is biased against conservatives. He doesn’t want to go after regulation, but he also highlighted how differently the company treated President Obama’s speeches and his own.
1. Pretend racism is all the rage: A Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate made an innocuous comment and now he is being attacked
— Wednesday morning, the Republican nominee for governor in Florida sparked some pretend outrage when he said, “The last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
— The national media, seeing an opportunity to call someone racist hours after lecturing us on how U.S. Senator John McCain wouldn’t let scurrilous allegation stand, launched into an all-out assault on the GOP nominee with no racial issues in his past in order to give his black opponent a hook.
BCA executive leadership a rare collection of influence
Lost in the headlines announcing a complete reorganization of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) was the fact that its executive committee is now a collection of the most influential business leaders in the state.
This assemblage of influence, and the resources that come with their participation in the BCA, set the organization up for its return to prominence in policy-making and politics.
The fact that leaders of the state’s largest employers, themselves, sit on the group’s governing body is a departure from the previous structure.
It shows the seriousness with which these companies take the need for one voice in Alabama’s business community.
And it allows them to harness unrivaled resources to implement their vision.
Among those sitting on the executive committee is Mark Crosswhite, president and CEO of Alabama Power, who spearheaded the overhaul effort for the state’s large employers. Crosswhite’s company has 1.4 million customers and 7,000 employees in Alabama.
John Turner, president and CEO of Regions Bank, brings to the table a presence of more than 200 bank branches in communities throughout Alabama.
Tim Vines, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, leads a business that operates in every county in the state and counts 2.1 million Alabamians as its customers.
Johnny Johns has been called an icon in the Alabama business community. He serves as Executive Chairman of Protective Life Corp. in Birmingham which is the 13th largest insurance company in the world.
Most corporate boardrooms would be envious of the collection of business leaders brought together at the new BCA.
In neighboring states, similar business advocacy groups have corporate officers below the CEO level participating in governance or see the influence of their CEOs diluted by the sheer numbers on governing boards.
That is not the case anymore in Alabama.
The willingness of these business leaders to sit at the table and participate directly in the decision-making process for the good of Alabama’s economy should not go unnoticed.
With their commitment, the resources they have at their disposal, the number of Alabamians they touch and a geographic footprint in all corners of the state, the BCA is now equipped with a rare level of influence.
And influence matters. Setting an agenda is easy. Enacting an agenda is the true litmus test for success.